A blog about a life awakened and rejuvenated around Western New York.

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Post Blizzard of 2014b – Day 1: A dusting covered the cars and the municipal snow plows spewed onto the groomed apron of my driveway. But no snow was falling when I left for work. The roads were snow covered, but scraped down and the ABS brakes on my car give me the sensation of grinding my teeth badly. A slow trek, but what the heck my driving skills needed to be challenged. And they were.

There was that idiot in the BIGGER SUV than mine whose balls paled in comparison to the plastic prosthetics that hung from his trailer hitch. There was the lady who drove like NASCAR was a slow joyride. The elderly gent who was hell bent on skirting into the McDonald’s parking lot to take his place amongst his cohorts after nearly swiping the utility truck, was a moveable obstacle for sure. And to think I stayed home yesterday in part to avoid driving in the hellacious blizzard conditions, only to take my life into my hands the day after.

Their antics did not make them better drivers. Their reckless attitude toward others on the road, never mind themselves, was an affront to common decency. Twenty-four hours after the “city of good neighbors” pulled together in our weather induced dilemma, it was business as usual in the self-centered minds of these morons. It’s as if a cheer went up in unison. “Hooray for me! Screw everyone else!” A very telling comparison. What a difference a day makes!

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I live in “Buffalo”. I love my four seasons. But in years where three of the four are Winter… I’m not a big fan. There was a recorded blizzard in January. Municipalities shut down. Schools closed. Driving bans were instituted. And the snow blower got a serious work out.

Flash forward to this morning. Conditions right for a recurrence. A second blizzard in a season. Blizzard of 2014a and Blizzard of 2014b. Having “survived” the Blizzard of 1977 and all subsequent snow jobs, I have been tempered to such folly. Who am I BS-ing? I hate this crap. Give me a White Christmas and I’m a happy little elf. But on March 12th, I’m ready for Spring, or what passes for Spring around here. But the Snow Miser is giving us another B-Slap. And we take it (like we really have a choice). It’s days like these that have me missing Jimmy Griffin, former Buffalo Mayor. He had the perfect solution for times such as these: “go home, buy a six pack of Genny (beer), and watch a good football game.”

James D. Griffin

James D. Griffin

Since football season is a few months away, I think giving Genny a great big hug would be a great way to honor the man. But in spite of that I’ll keep thinking this thought. This snow blows!

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Beach7513 004Last day of vacation of a sucky, rainy week, we decided to take a ride to the beach of our separate (but connected) youths. The drive up Route 5 along the lake passed through bright sunshine to overcast skies to smatterings of rain (some downright monsoon like). But we continued on.

Evangola State Park was the place we went for a day of sun and fun, picnic lunches and escape. It remains the same. However, it looks different. Maybe it was just perspective from childhood to the verge of my senior years. But the essence of it was Eerily familiar.

Grabbing the blanket and radio (and with umbrella in tow) we headed through the park to the shore, getting caught in a downpour before our destination. Under a tree, we debated ending the trek and returning home. But, just as suddenly the rain stopped.

Down the ramp to the sand, barefooted and determined, we found the beach deserted. No one, save for the two guards still on duty.Even the gulls were few. The skies changed but our connection stayed strong. As the rays of sun made an occasional appearance, it reaffirmed our believe in a greater power. My wife and I took our leave in the expanse of this Lake Erie shore. Even one day at the beach, albeit a rainy one, was just what the doctor ordered. It was sill a good day!

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A wet Monday for the most part, still battling my weather woes. I don’t usually find my self in the throes of such a malaise, and I’d be crazy to start now. So it just seems natural for music to soothe this savage’s breast.

I’ve spent the day searching for the songs that express such days perfectly. The Mamas and the Papas sing “Monday, Monday” and I find myself harmonizing right along John, Denny, Michelle and Cass. “Rhythm of the Rain” by the Cascades stokes a few chords but doesn’t completely satisfy. Dipping back into the days of my Bubble Gum youth, the Cowsills “The Rain, the Park and Other Things” brings a smile.

Chicago’s “Thunder and Lightning” rocks with horns (I still miss Cetera’s voice in the later stuff). “Raining Men”  by the Weather Girls… I don’t think so, “Let it Rain” soulful, but I had enough. “Purple Rain”, “Bucket of Rain”, “Who’ll Stop the Rain?” Enough said.

“I Don’t Like Mondays” (Boomtown Rats), melds into “Long Monday” (John Prine) and “Manic Monday” (The Bangles) fill the calendar day.

But I guess the ultimate theme for days like these is the spirit that lives in Karen Carpenter’s lilting voice in “Rainy Day and Mondays”. She finds a way to ignite my fire long after she’s gone. I miss her voice, terribly!

Hey, so I’m a passionate guy. Sue me!

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A smart looking day today. Not overtly warm, but this Sunday holds the charm I remembered as a kid growing up in Lackawanna, New York. Screw the Blue Laws and other random restrictions, it was a guarantee that Sunday was a day of rest. Now I’m not gonna get all biblical on you. That is truly not my style. But after a week of work (with Saturday dedicated to the house and yard) you relished Sunday.

I remember my Grandfather, Josef Kura, a distinguished old (naturalized) immigrant from Igolomia, Poland. He worked in the yard in his later years, various gardens and flower beds; always with a rake or hoe or shovel in hand – the tools of his toil. He dressed in work pants, flannel shirt and ball cap drawn over his eyes. His handkerchief (bandana) hanging from a rear pocket to collect the sweat that beaded on his forehead.  But come Sunday, all that ceased. Dressed in his Sunday best, his going to church clothes – highly polished shoes, pressed pants, white shirt and tie, and a straw fedora perched on his head. This was his uniform for the day.

And it seemed that for a man that worked so extremely hard, it was almost out of character to see him so sedate and relaxed. He was a peaceful man that displayed that persona daily, but dressed for the part each and every Sunday. He rested on Sunday. Today is tailor-made for reminiscing about my mentor. And for kicking up heels and feeling his spirit. I can hear it in the rush of wind. It’s a beautiful Sunday!

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Delayed by a wedding and some inclement weather, a tradition of planting flowers at the graves of our parents and grandparents finally took place today. Still a chance of rain (it did) we decided to undertake the task.

Arriving, at my parent’s plot I was disheartened. The flag I had placed to honor my father’s service, had been stolen. It has happened before, so I shouldn’t have been surprised. But my faith in human nature had taken another hit. We had planted the flowers (half-hearted, I sadly admit) before moving onto the next memorial.

The rain’s intensity kicked into high gear and we decided to resume at a later date.

I don’t know what possesses people to be so crass and callous of the feelings of others. I mean, sure boiled down – it’s a cloth stapled to a stick. But there is meaning in all of it. A banner defended by many lives lost and placed in honor of one such life. My pride in my father’s dedication and the service of other like souls buried here doesn’t change for lack of said flag. I just pray that whoever  removed the flag will come to learn its importance in the hearts of many. It is because of that flag and the brave souls who defend it, that even these kind of people have the “right” to be morons.

It’s just a shame they don’t understand.

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Meteorological Bullshit aside, it appears we’ll be in store for a scorcher (which in these parts is anything under 99°F. As far as I’ve heard, it’s never broken the century mark – I could be wrong lending to Walliological Bullshit all its own). Eight in the morning (EST) and the coolness of night is slowly making a hasty retreat.

I work in a tin box. A pre-fab addition to a series of pre-fab additions, that has major difficulty keeping the cold out in the winter, and goes a long way emulating a 400° oven when there’s steam. With the moisture levels and the heat, it’s obvious there will be steam. And as we were taught in school, class: “It’s not the heat, it’s the stupidity”!

So, did I dress accordingly? Of course not. Safety dictates “long-sleeved” pants and steel toe boots. Not the sexiest attire. Liberties were taken, wearing the thinnest of T-shirts I could muster (that didn’t have mustard blotted on it – I can be a bit of a slob sometimes! 😉  ). Once the beads of sweat form, it won’t quite matter any longer, will it?

So the game plan: pace myself. And stay hydrated (lay off the coffee dunderhead, you’ll dehydrate). Should a spray or splash of water find my face, I will welcome it appreciatively.

Normally, I bristle at getting wet… but all’s fair in love and steam!

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It was an amazing 24 hours. The whole week really. Melissa had come home to be married out of our house like she always dreamed. We ate meals as a family. We watched movies together (wedding movies, needless to say). 

Cold, wet skies pocked the approaching days, and in a way we prayed for better weather. It poured as we entered the church to rehearse. Step here, do that. Don’t do this, the wedding party goes here… And it seemed to go smoothly (a precursor to the following nuptials). Dinner and a gathering again as a soon to be newly formed family. Drinks and laughs and food and long glancing looks.

Her mother looks contemplative. She knows our daughter will join the ranks as a wife and somewhere down the road, a mother. They’ve had their battles, both headstrong and driven. Melissa was too much like her mother, as much as neither would admit it. As much as they both hoped they would be.

And I was as melancholy as I had become as the big day neared. Mixed emotions, I guess you would say. Melissa was our first born. She was my helper, my right hand. She cared for her sister while mom worked nights and I tried hard to keep the ship afloat. Her chosen field (teaching) came to her naturally, again in her dealings with Andrea, her junior by seven years. The girls liked to play school. And in acting as teacher, Melissa did indeed teach her sister, how to read and write long before she had been enrolled at school.

She was my biggest fan. She enjoyed my music and was my best critic when it came to my verbal scribblings. I knew my poetry was good when I was able to elicit tears from Melissa through the touching beauty of some well chosen words. For a while it felt like I was losing that.

But all I was losing was the daily connection we had come to rely upon. None of the rest really changed.

The morning of the wedding moved like a high speed movie. Disjointed scenes, random clips of a pre-scripted show. Hair appointments, and dressing, photographs and in the milieu of time, a wedding happened. Me, on wobbly legs escorting this beautiful woman (the second time in my life) down an aisle to a new life. No practice was really necessary, she knew what to do all along. It was as if she were leading me to where she needed to be. I had been replaced. And she couldn’t have chosen a better man.

But in reality, it was he that made the correct choice. And it couldn’t have happened to a nicer couple of kids.

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The un-official start of Summer looms, but we’re doomed still wrestling with winter’s sleeper hold. Well, maybe it’s not that bad, but it is cold. Mother’s Day required the thermostat to be adjusted and I must  have had three throws on to keep toasty warm.

We got a bit spoiled last week; a tease really. Highs in the mid-seventies. And no, I haven’t forgotten that I live in Buffalo, New York (If you don’t like the weather, wait a minute, it’s sure to change) but this strange bit of meteorological bullshit  just seems to make the seasons choke the life out of one another; last one standing wins.

There are no grins. No muted sighs of relief. Even our laments of grief hold their blackened tongues. The unsung heroes of this conflict is me and every sick bastard like me who remains rooted  here where the Buffalo Wings roam. There’s no place like home as long as the Blue Cheese dip is in good supply.

We love to complain. We live to complain. Next to our sports, complaining is our favorite past time. And our football and hockey teams have become invisible for the most part, and if your heart is still in it, I hope for your sake they both win it someday. In the summer we catch some dog days here. And we complain it’s too hot. The winter is too cold; or has too much snow; or not enough snow; or… We tend to fore go happy ever after for anything that would be crappy here and now, or anywhere else.

But don’t get me wrong. This is a great place. Some major landmarks and spots of interest (to be highlighted here). Some great history with equally famous names attached: Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain), Millard Fillmore, Grover Cleveland,  Frank Lloyd Wright, Frederick Law Olmstead and more. And equally infamous “Lacakawanna Six” (Terrorist cell), O.J. Simpson, Leon Czolgosz (William McKinley’s Assassin).

But it is we, the “lesser lights” that make the Western New York area a great place. The people of this area are top of the list when touting our resources. Caring, compassionate, helpful, (although sometimes thin skinned when an outsider (or dubious insider) puts our weather down) but we are resilient and always bounce back stronger. I won’t go on much longer…

…but we DO complain too much.



Today’s forecast: Fair, with a chance of thunderstorms.

That’s like saying – A great life… with a chance of death.

Ok, so reality could come to bite you in the ass on occasion, that is as long as it’s based on some semblance of fact. Reality based on fact? (What a concept!)

Sometimes I wonder, “Do they even really know?” The weather “gurus” play with their models (boys and girls with their toys) and then form OPINIONS on what THEY see. One scenario says it won’t be such a bad day… High in the low to possible mid-sixties, partly cloudy but dry. The other forecast says the temperatures will drop into the fifties and rain like a son-of-a-bitch (not an official on-air weather term). So we will be dealing with a cold to moderately warm, dry not so dry deluge of biblical proportions.

It’s like going to a psychic who sees a possible male or female with an b, s, n, or o in their name who was, is or will be acquainted to you in this or another life…

Rather random, wouldn’t you say? So, I prefer to use my father’s age old (and extraordinarily accurate system). “Sonny”, he’d say “stick your head out the window. If it comes back wet… take an umbrella!”

Yeah, he called me Sonny and he never knew why. He claimed I wasn’t that bright! But I know his garden would have loved all this rain (if it eventually falls or not!)

*******  UPDATE ******

OK, so it started to come down in a torrent of precipitation. A whole lot of rain in a short burst, but I’m taking off points for the lack of rumble. I’d like my thunder storm to make some damn noise, thank you very much!

But apparently, I pissed the rain gods off! I didn’t realize I wield such power! I must learn to harness this for good!